Two goals from Roberto Soldado and a third from Tino Costa thwarted Rangers from gaining any points in the Champions League at Valencia’s Mestalla stadium last night.
Soldado capitalised on a failed clearance from Alan McGregor, the Rangers keeper, in the 33rd minute following a corner, squeezing a shot past Sasha Pavac, who was standing at the near post.
His second came after a making a run down the right-wing playing a one-two with Juan Mata. This led to a perfectly weighted finish past the Rangers keeper. McGregor managed to get his finger-tips to it but could not stop it from hitting the back of the net.
Valencia hit home just before the final whistle for the third, with Tino Costa volleying in a cross from Miguel. This marked a final farewell to the visitors from Glasgow.
Rangers were not without their chances. Steven Naismith was denied by the woodwork in both halves. The first after a Kirk Broadfoot pass up the left-wing, which saw the Scotland international hit bending shot that struck the far post. The second was a header that grazed the near upright. The rebound was spilled by the Valencia keeper, Caesar Sanchez, but Rangers could not capitalise.
Valencia dominated play, with Joaquin causing trouble for the visitors all evening. He made pressing runs up both wings that could not be stopped by the Rangers defence. This was highlighted in the 80th minute. A dancing run beat Steven Whittaker but the resulting cut-back was misplaced.
McGregor played well between the sticks despite the score line. He made a number of saves that required quick hands on his part. Shots by Mata in the 3rd and 11th tested the keeper’s reactions.
Scotland striker Kenny Miller had a quiet night, having only one good opportunity during the game. Defender Miguel was caught out by Naismith who passed the ball on to Miller. This left him one on one with Caesar, but the striker could only shoot weakly into the keeper’s arms.
David Albelda was awarded the only card of the game, after a reckless challenge on Broadfoot.
Rangers will now face the Group C leaders Manchester United on the November 24th.
Jack believes the SFA does not take enough responsibility for the problems facing Scottish football, saying that the task “beyond the scope of a lot of the clubs”.
With many fans affected by the recession, clubs have seen a sharp decline in attendances. Hibernian‘s average attendance has dropped from nearly 15,000 four years ago to 11,000 this season. Celtic recorded an 11,000 drop in their average last term. Sky Sports’ David Tanner believes the game needs modernising, and should look Stateside for inspiration: “If you look at American sports you can get all kinds of franchised food. None of these things are available at Scottish football. That has to be modernised or the game will die. I think the attendance levels dropping reflect that.”
In a statement, the SFA said this was an issue for the SPL and SFL and made no further comment.
Mike Riley, Chairman of the Hibs Supporters’ Club, believes the introduction of a winter break would encourage more fans to come to the game: “I think Scottish football’s seriously got to look at that. That would bring it into longer situations where we’re having good weather. Making it better for the young kids as well.”
Jack believes the SFA have not done enough, stating that: “The reality is that there aren’t any real sort of plans. That’s why the SFA have to lead it.”
A change in the system has to be decided at club level through a mandate, but without the backing of all three governing bodies it cannot be completed. A single governing body, Jack believes, would make changes easier to implement: “When two large companies merge to form a larger corporate entity, each company will be different in it’s business systems and it’s technical areas. The decision to merge is often a simple one. Scottish football has to undergo a similar process but has to see beyond the detail which hampers decision making by confusing the issue.”
A humiliating 2-0 loss against St Johnstone this weekend led to Hibernian FC suffering it’s seventh consecutive defeat. The club, who have not won a home game at Easter Road since March 2010 felt another blow this morning when it was announced that their manager, John Hughes – known affectionately by fans as ‘Yogi’, was to leave by ‘mutual consent’.
This decision seems to have received split opinions by the clubs most avid fans. Lee McLennan, who runs both the Edinburgh and Livingston Hibs supporter branches thought Hughes’ departure was followed by a ‘sense of relief’ from the fans as his decision to leave was what was ‘best for the club, and hopefully the board will make a good decision by choosing a more experienced manager’ as Hughes’ successor. Bryan Maughan however, who has supported the team for 50 years, is of the opinion that Hughes’decision to leave was ‘disappointing’ as he ‘hoped that Hughes would have held on until Christmas’.
The vacant managerial position left by Hughes is a hot topic of discussion amongst fans and many are making guesses as to who will fill Yogi’s boots. Contenders for the role include Jimmy Calderwood of Kilmarnock FC, Michael O’Neill and Derek McInnes of St Johnstone but fans think that the club’s financial situation will play a huge role in who will be appointed, and fear that the club will compromise managerial experience due to expense.
SFA Cheif Executive Gordon Smith was delighted by the rule change which will benefit Scottish football as a whole, “Islam is a fine example of the type of person this new rule is designed to benefit.” The move will help promote social inclusion in football and incorporate with changes in society.
The rule change has also seen other footballer’s come into contention for call-ups to the national set-up including the much debated possible inclusion of Andrew Driver. The highly rated Hearts winger has no Scottish blood relation but has been resident within Scotland long enough to seek benefit from the new FIFA rules.
Aiden McGeady’s recent spat with Celtic manager Gordon Strachan has confirmed one of football’s unwritten rules – don’t cross the boss.
The Republic of Ireland international has been fined two weeks wages and banned from all first team activities for a fortnight. That will rule the winger out of next week’s Old Firm derby, arguably Celtic’s biggest game of the season so far.
He may be regarded as the best player in the Parkhead squad, but an alleged foul-mouthed rant at manager Gordon Strachan after last week’s draw with Hearts could have cost McGeady his Celtic career.
McGeady is only 22-year-old but he seems to feel he is immune from criticism. He wasn’t the only player given a rollicking during the alleged bust-up last week. Experienced internationals like Gary Caldwell and Georgios Samaras were reported to have been on the receiving end of some rough criticism from the boss before the alleged row with McGeady. But both took it on and chin like men and were wise enough not to answer back.
It’s not the first time McGeady has hit the headlines for the wrong reasons. Earlier this season, the wide man was caught up in violent scenes on a night out in Glasgow, with allegations that the player’s arrogant attitude was at the heart of the problems.
Being arrogant enough to answer back to the manager during the course of a verbal dressing down rarely does a footballer’s career any good. But it seems to be an underlying problem with young professionals in Scotland.
Earlier in the week, former Dundee United manager Jim McLean recalled the story of when a 19-year-old Duncan Ferguson had been omitted from the Scotland squad. It was 1991 and McLean said the striker was upset. The following Saturday, Ferguson played for United in front of watching Scotland manager Andy Roxburgh and had performed poorly in the first half. McLean reminded his young forward it was the perfect chance to prove the Scotland boss wrong. Ferguson, McLean says, replied with “I don’t have to prove myself to anyone.”
More recently, with Rangers struggling under the tenure of Paul Le Guen, midfielder Charlie Adam was interviewed about life as a footballer. The then 20-year-old replied that he found it hard to occupy himself after training each day, which lasted just two hours. With his side well out of the title race at the time, a young player anywhere else in the world looking to improve the fortunes of himself and his team may take it upon himself to put in a few extra hours each day on the training ground. Not in Scotland it seems.
And his Rangers teammate, Allan McGregor, is now almost as famous for his bedroom exploits as his goalkeeping saves. The shot stopper has seen his form dip this season and his playboy lifestyle has now been criticised by supporters.
Arrogance may be the reason why Scotland cannot produce world class stars like in yesteryears. Gone are the days of Dalglish, Law and Jordan. And unless young footballers in this country adopt a hard-working ethic and take on board what they are told by their experienced managers, it could be a long time before another Scot is capable of gracing the world stage.
And in the case of McGeady, he isn’t the first player to fall foul of his manager and face the consequences. Sir Alex Ferguson at Manchester United is renowned for moving on high-profile stars who don’t toe the line, most notably David Beckham.
And it proves that when a player and the boss cross swords, there can only be one winner.
Mickey Lawson’s side were defeated 2-1 at Borough Briggs but the home team fielded goalkeeper Joe Malin, who signed on loan from Ross County after the date of the original tie that was postponed on November 29th.
The capital club launched an appeal for the match to be replayed after finding out Malin was ineligible and the SFA committee said that Elgin were in breach of Competition Rule 15b. This states that “When a match is postponed, drawn or abandoned, is played or replayed, only those players who were eligible by means of their registration at the date fixed for originally playing the Round, may play.”
The match will now be replayed at Elgin’s Borough Briggs ground on Monday December 15th with a 7.45pm kick off.
Last season, Brechin City were expelled from the tournament after it was discovered they fielded two ineligible players during their victory over Hamilton Academical.
With a busy weekend of sport ahead, Ross Hart takes a look at the upcoming action.
Weather permitting, there is a full card of league fixtures this weekend and a Scottish Cup tie this evening.
Tonight, Inverurie Locos and Vale of Leithen will attempt for the fouth time to play their third round Scottish Cup tie after adverse weather conditions resulted in three postponements. The winners will be rewarded with a home tie against SPL side Motherwell in the fourth round.
In the Scottish Premier League this weekend, Rangers travel to in form Dundee United in the early kick off on Saturday. United have only lost once in their last 14 league and cup games and sit third in the table, while Rangers will look to put more pressure on leaders Celtic after defeating Hamilton 7-1 last weekend.
Celtic meanwhile are looking to recover from last weekend’s loss to Hibernian by defeating the other half of Edinburgh at Celtic Park. Last night’s Champions League victory over Villarreal provided a confidence boost but Hearts have won five successive matches to maintain their push for European football next season.
Hibernian will look to build on their victory over the leaders last week by defeating struggling Hamilton at Easter Road. The visitors sit bottom of the table after recording only one win in their last 12 league matches but are boosted by striker Richard Offiong signing a contract extension.
In the other SPL games, Aberdeen will look to maintain their position within the top six at home to Falkirk, while St Mirren will climb above Inverness with victory at Love Street. Motherwell host Kilmarnock on Monday evening in a game to be broadcast live on Setanta Sports.
The Edinburgh Gunners are again in action this weekend as they travel south to play London Wasps in a Heineken Cup pool two clash. The sides met at Murrayfield last weekend with the Gunners falling to a 25-16 defeat so Andy Robinson will be hoping his team can gain revenge on former Scotland coach Ian McGeechan’s team on Sunday afternoon.
Scotland’s other European representatives Glasgow Warriors take on Bath at Firhill on Sunday and will also be looking to avenge defeat by their English counterparts. Sean Lineen’s team narrowly lost out last weekend by 35 points to 31 at the Recreation Ground.
Ronnie O’Sullivan is looking to defend his Maplin UK Championship title as this year’s tournament gets underway on Saturday in Telford. Current World Champion O’Sullivan kicks off the defence of the UK Championship against Rory McLeod on the opening day of the tournament.
There is plenty of Scottish representation, with five players flying the saltire. Five time UK Champion Stephen Hendry takes on England’s Stephen Lee while the ‘Wishaw Wizard’ and current Grand Prix champion John Higgins faces world number 20 Joe Swail.
Former World Champion Graeme Dott faces Ireland’s Ken Doherty while the clash between world number two Stephen MaGuire and Jamie Burnett, ranked 43 places below, guarantees a Scottish name in the second round.
Hearts have come to an agreement with Arbroath to postpone payment of money owed to the Second Division side over the Andy Webster transfer deal for a month.
The debt of around £15,000 is Arbroath’s cut of the deal that took Webster from Hearts to Wigan in 2006. Arbroath inserted a sell on clause into the deal which took the player to Edinburgh in 2001.
Arbroath secretary Garry Callon said: “We are due £14,437 plus VAT with the interest on top and we have been told that will be paid on January 9.”
Webster was with Hearts for five years before invoking a loophole in governing body FIFA’s contract law. This clause allowed the player to leave for a club outside Scotland if his current employers were given adequate notice.
He then signed for Wigan but his time at the JJB Stadium was hit by injury and he signed for Rangers a year later on loan before making a permanent move to the Glasgow club.
The delay in the payment comes amid fears of a cash crisis at Hearts. Earlier this month, players received their wages four days late and win bonuses were also due to them.
It is rumoured that the Jambos’ owner Vladimir Romanov is preparing to sell on some of the club’s top earners, such as captain Christophe Berra, in January to ease the cash-flow problems the club face.
Scottish fans dismayed by their countries failure to beat Norway can console themselves with the fact that they did their bit for charity.
Around 50,000 supporters at Hampden neglected their obligatory pie and Bovril at half-time to take part in a recording of 1982 World Cup hit, “We Have a Dream”, shown in this YouTube video, led by the original singer John Gordon Sinclair, which shall be released for BBC Children in Need.
The single, available for download now, will be available in shops on November 10th. “Gregory’s Girl” star Sinclair shall be joined on the single by guests including former Scotland striker Ally McCoist and movie legend Samuel L. Jackson.
It was a small piece of consolation for supporters who were disappointed by the team’s failure to defeat the Norwegians, a poor performance summed up by Chris Iwelumo’s shocking miss, shown on this YouTube video. However upon reflection members of the Tartan Army were at least proud to have done their bit.
Darren Hendry, from The East of Scotland Tartan Army, said: “Obviously it was a disappointing day but to know that we did our bit for charity is good. It helps cement our place as the greatest supporters in the world.”
This isn’t the first time the Tartan Army has taken part in a charity single. They were recorded singing “Loch Lomond” at half-time of the international versus Ukraine, with proceeds also going to Children in Need.